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How to Avoid a Medication Mix-up

How to Avoid a Medication Mix-up

Med Mix-up Statistics

Over 1.3 million Americans are injured from medication mix-ups or errors each year in the United States. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 4 Emergency Room (ER) visits out of every 1,000 adults are due to adverse drug reactions. Another study showed that 30% of elderly patient ER visits were due to medication mix-ups or errors.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 60% of all Americans take at least one prescription drug. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health indicates that over 90% of seniors age 65 and over take at least one prescription while 40% take at least five prescription medications. This study also showed that 55% of seniors were not following the medication instructions properly.

When we consider this information combined with the fact that many seniors also take non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, we can begin to understand the severity of medication mix-ups and errors. Many seniors take more than 10 drugs — including both prescription and OTC medicines.

Common Medication Errors

Common medication errors occur when medications have similar names. For example, Celebrex is used to treat arthritis while Celexa is used to treat depression. Another common problem is taking too much of a medicine. Some medications interact with another medication, and this problem can be especially dangerous with seniors who are on numerous prescription and/or OTC medications.

Some foods, such as grapefruit, can interact with medications due to the way medicines are metabolized. So it’s important to understand any foods or drinks or medicines that can interact with the medicine you are taking.

Some medications are meant for nasal inhalation, while others are meant to be taken sub-lingual and others swallowed. When these medications are not taken in the proper way, the efficacy can change potentially causing undesirable outcomes.

Medication mix-up Solutions

Here are some important tips to help you or your loved one manage his or her medications:

  • Make a complete list of all medication names, descriptions, drug indications, and prescribed dosages. Leave a copy at home and another on hand for any medical visits.
  • Follow the instructions on the medication — never take more than prescribed.
  • Consider using a pill-minder to ensure you take the right quantities of each medicine as prescribed.
  • Ensure that you understand the generic names that are equivalent to the brand medications.
  • Be sure that medicine labels are clearly marked and stored separately to prevent name mix-ups.
  • Prevent medication interactions by ensuring that your pharmacist and physicians know each medication you are taking — including any OTC medicines as well as vitamins and supplements.
  • If you have any questions about the medications, don’t assume nor guess; consult with your pharmacist or physician.

If you or your loved one is having difficulties with medication management, you may want to consider a home health care provider. A professional caregiver can ensure that you or your loved one takes the proper medicine in the right dosage at the correct time. A care giver can also check vitals, monitor health, and assist errands such as refilling prescriptions.

If you have questions about medication management for you or your aging family member, contact us at 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit

Expicare Nursing, Inc.

Owned and managed by highly qualified Registered Nurses, Expicare is a recognized leader of home health care in South Florida. For over three decades, Expicare has provided unparalleled home health care to thousands of patients throughout Palm Beach County. From post-surgery assistance to compassionate care for patients and families struggling with Alzheimer’s, Expicare provides highly skilled nurses and nursing assistants to care for your parents or loved ones. For more information, contact 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit